Advent: Day 10
Psalm 26:2, Revised Standard Version
“We’re going to have the district benchmark test next week,” I announce.
All my students groan.
Inwardly, I do too. We seem to be testing our students incessantly. Sometimes it gets to be overwhelming, for the teachers as well as the students.
The district benchmark test, a grueling affair, is based on state academic standards, and is given three times every quarter.
The pre-test is for the purpose of guiding instruction: What do the students need to know?
The mid-term test continues to guide instruction, but the question teachers ask themselves changes slightly: What have the students learned, and what do they still need to learn?
The post-test, or final benchmark exam is a summative assessment that shows how well the students have mastered certain state standards during the quarter.
Teachers and students may despise testing, but it’s one of those necessary evils of the education system. Without testing, both students and teachers flounder aimlessly in the classroom.
Unlike a teacher announcing the date of a test, God makes no announcement, but is testing us continually.
And unlike the district benchmark test, which may contain as many as fifty questions, God’s test has only one: Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself?
Students know that the only way to pass a test is to study. The psalmist knows that the only way to pass God’s test is to pray, and so he does: “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.”
As I pray with the psalmist during the season of Advent, and beyond, may I be able to answer God’s test question with a confident yes.